KLAMATH FALLS, Ore. — In 2011, the Oregon Tech softball team entered the national tournament as a relative unknown.
“We didn’t expect to win honestly,” said Danielle Sayres. “We wanted to win, but we didn’t expect to.”
“We call it the ‘Cinderella Season’ because no one knew us,” said Shauna Collins. “No one was expecting anything from us.”
OIT had only one previous appearance at the national tourney, but the Owls carried that underdog mentality to the school’s first and only national championship in the sport.
“The girls kind of went out there really with an attitude of, ‘hey, we’re having fun. We’re going to have a good time no matter what,’ and sometimes loose teams or relaxed teams that feel no pressure are hot teams and they’re dangerous,” said head coach Greg Stewart.
That’s something Stewart would like to see as this year’s team tries to go on another long run. For that to happen, he’ll lean heavily on Sayers and Collins, the only two current players who were on the 2011 team. Stewart hopes Collins and Sayres will be able to pass on what they learned to their teammates.
“It is nice to have some remnants of that team and that year to be able to say, ‘hey, this is what it takes to be able to get to this level,’” said Stewart.
“I think it’s a good idea just to show them how exciting it is, and the opportunity is not always there, and this year it is for us,” said Collins.
“When you’ve got nothing to lose and you just give it your all and play and have fun, that’s all I can really tell them,” said Sayres. “Good things will happen.”
The Owls barely made the tournament this year after finishing third in the Cascade Conference Tournament two weeks ago. So much like 2011, OIT is not expected to win, leading to what Collins and Sayres hope will be another Cinderella season.
Oregon Tech won its first game in the 2014 tournament, beating College of Idaho 10-2. Sayres and Collins scored five of the Owls’ ten runs.